Admit it. A few weeks ago, when newspapers announced that Amitabh Bachchan had spent Rs 2.7 lakhs on a pair of sunglasses, it can’t have been easy to stop yourself from joining the Communist Party on the spot. Rs 2,70,000 for sunglasses? Whaaa????
Bachchan denied the story of course, and people didn’t believe it anyway. But that didn’t stop discussions on the subject. Sure, we apparently have more millionaires than we ever thought the country could have, but when you think of lifestyles of the rich and famous, you tend to think of film stars.
How can you not, when you keep hearing producers whine and complain about how much they have to shell out to sign an actor for a film. When you see this film star, or that film star zoom about in a mindblow ingly expensive foreign car.
When pictures of their homes are splashed in all the fanzines — homes of a kind we can’t even imagine. Just how much must they be taking home, you wonder.
Well, read on and you’ll find out.
BLACK IS BLACK
At No. 1 is — you guessed it — Shah Rukh Khan, who could look a producer straight in the eye, say, “Rs 7 crore” without a blink, and get it. At No. 2 is Aamir Khan, who, because he only does one or two films a year, can easily charge Rs 5-6 crore per film as his professional fee. And at No. 3 is Salman Khan whose asking price is Rs 5-5.5 crore.
How can we be so specific with these figures, you ask? Well, it’s not difficult these days. As a top filmmaker laughed when Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Black took almost all the awards at the recently held IIFA awards in Dubai: “This industry makes Black, the awards functions honour Black, but the dealings are all in white.”
Where once upon a time Bollywood was notorious for paying its people in black money (remember the stories of Income Tax raids on stars, and the large hauls of illegal cash found in the false, though fancy, ceilings of their homes?), corporatisation of the industry has changed all that. Ever since Zee Telefilms first paid everyone involved in the making of Gadar Ek Prem Katha, from hero Sunny Deol to the spot boy, by cheque, actors have preferred to account for their earnings.
Cheque payments are insisted upon today, and stars like Amitabh Bachchan and Shah Rukh Khan are among the highest individual tax payers in the country.
Now that the openness of their earnings is clear, let’s see why actors take home the kind of paychecks they do, and what they do to earn them.
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